Brendan Rodgers has confirmed former Manchester City man James Milner will be Liverpool’s vice-captain this season, deputising for Jordan Henderson.
The Northern Irishman revealed the decision in his pre-match press conference ahead of this weekend’s Premier League opener away at Stoke City, with Milner believed to have fended off competition from the likes of Lucas Leiva and Martin Skrtel.
It’s a big call from Rodgers, for sure. Milner only joined the Anfield outfit earlier this summer having transferred from the Etihad, and he has yet to kick a ball in competitive football for the Reds.
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That said he is a distinguished midfielder who has been and done nearly all there is to do in club football, and his presence as a senior member of the Liverpool squad will no doubt help fill the void left when Steven Gerrard departed for LA Galaxy.
“He went to Man City and did a great job and when the possibility he was going to be available, obviously you’re surprised but then you’re hoping you can get him to come to your club because he’s the type of player who gives everything," Rodgers said of Milner.
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“His actual football talent has probably gone under the radar because he’s played around some outstanding talents, but this is a guy who works tirelessly at his game.
"He’s in here at 7.45am in the morning making sure he’s prepared for his training, getting all of his food supplements and getting everything correct before training – he’s in two-and-a-half hours before he trains and then does his work, gives his maximum. He prepares himself like an elite player should.
“He’s also got big character and a big mentality, and I felt we needed that in the team to the extent where he will be the vice-captain this year."
Milner in the middle
It looks likely that Milner will partner compatriot Henderson in the heart of the midfield, with an all English anchor providing the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino with a licence to express their flair further up the pitch.
Perhaps the biggest factor in Rodgers' decision for vice-captain however is the fact that Milner possesses great mental strength, a trait Liverpool are going to need in abundance if they are to be successful this term.
Kicking off their season the Reds head to Stoke City on Sunday, coincidentally where they were dismantled 6-1 in their last Premier League outing on the final day of last term.
On top of that Liverpool have to cope with the fact that they are under pressure to perform following a truly drab campaign under Rodgers last time out.
A sixth place finish was the last thing fans were expecting after coming close to winning the league in 2014, and if a repeat looks on the cards the powers that be at Anfield won't be happy.
To be fair to Rodgers he looks to have plugged the obvious gaps in his side with some nifty business in the transfer market.
Milner is joined by the likes of Christian Benteke, the aforementioned Firmino, Nathaniel Clyne, Danny Ings and Joe Gomez in terms of new arrivals, creating a nice balance of assured experience and eye-catching technique.
Liverpool fans, do you think Milner is the right choice as vice-captain? Let us know your thoughts on the matter in the comments box below.